Sunday, April 27, 2008

Teaching old cats new tricks

5 cousins & a friend (of a cousin) took up Cantonese recently. On the very first lesson, like the others this cousin struggled with the unfamiliar slang and phrases entirely. She enjoyed learning mandarin in her college days (and got pretty decent grades too.. :)) but must admit that she finds Cantonese even harder. She is uncertain whether it's the age that has started taking its toll (because she learned mandarin like 4-5 years back) or it is in fact more difficult as compared to the latter (read: she's in denial).

She told the cousins that she needs to reset her Mandarin so as not to confuse herself with the newly learned language but so much so, instead of calling herself
ngo (which means I in canto) and calling you with nei this cousin kept on saying wo (which is I in mandarin) and ni (you) all the time. Sigh. She quickly dragged herself to Borders the next day to get one of those Cantonese CD to get familiarised with the basic phrases (& was described kiasu by someone :p). Thank god the second class was so much better (note: being kiasu sometimes help :D). She has quite adjusted to ngo and nei nowadays (though wo & ni still slip off from time to time) but is still yet to remember most of the words even the simplest ones and not to mention that putting words into a sentence is still quite a challenge. (It must be the age that contributes to the rusty memory she thought.. hmm). Then again, she can't help but notice that some of the mandarin words are very similar to those in Cantonese and it certainly helped her remember the Canto phrases better like:

i know =
ngo ji do (canto); wo zhidao (mand)
zhi is pronounced as jhe]
please come in =
qing/qeng yap lei la (canto); qing jin lai (mand) [qing is pronounced as ching]
please have a drink (tea) =
qing/qeng yam cha la (canto); qing he cha (mand)
because =
yin wai (canto); yinwei (mand)
home maker =
jhu fu (canto); jiating zhu fu (mand)
Mr. =
xin saang (canto); xiansheng (mand)
Miss =
xiu je (canto); xiaojie (mand)
i love you = ngo oi nei (canto); wo ai ni (mand) :D

They had fun the 6 of them, having the class all to themselves
(giving the teacher a large dose of headache twice a week with their constant mispronounced words and unhelpful laughing and being laughed by one another) and tried conversing with each other from time to time, exchanging new words (bad ones no exception) taught by colleagues and friends. They now have another 4 weeks to go to complete the course and she hopes that these old cats will get to remember their tricks come exam on the final week :)

Speaking of which, she has some homework to get to. Have a wonderful rainy day. Don't forget your umbrellas when you leave home (or office)!

Joi gin.

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